Category Archives: Baroque

Unit IV Questions

If you have not already, please feel free to use the essay questions for Unit IV as discussion questions for your blog comments!

 

  • What was different about the approach baroque-era scientists and philosophers took compared to what someone would do today? Consider the political-religious system of the time. What do you think would happen today if you claimed the truth of some theory that was not approved of by the contemporary power structure?
  • What are the basic points of the theories of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke? What do they have in common, and on what points do they radically differ? Which of their ideas do you agree with, and why?

Thank you!

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Discussion Questions, Unit IV

Please use the Essay Questions for Unit IV as discussion questions to get started this Unit. More will be posted soon.

  • What was different about the approach baroque-era scientists and philosophers took compared to what someone would do today? Consider the political-religious system of the time. What do you think would happen today if you claimed the truth of some theory that was not approved of by the contemporary power structure?
  • What are the basic points of the theories of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke? What do they have in common, and on what points do they radically differ? Which of their ideas do you agree with, and why?

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Writing about Plays: Othello

By Tracey Thompson

Othello is a classic play written by the famous William Shakespeare.  The play is available to be read in many places, I read a copy from the Hardin County Public Library.  This play was written and first performed in 1604.  In summary of the play, Othello is a general who promotes Cassio. This creates jealousy from Iago towards Cassio and resentment towards Othello.  Othello then marries his love, Desademona.  In an effort to gain revenge, Iago begins a malicious plot against both Othello and Cassio.  As part of Iago’s scheme, he convinces that Othello’s wife (Desademona) is having an affair with Cassio.  Othello begins to get both suspicious and jealous.  Iago continues his plot of convincing Othello that his wife is unfaithful.  Through various acts and schemes by Iago, Othello is finally convinced of an affair between Desademona and Cassio.  Othello returns to his castle to murder his innocent wife because of her believed infidelity.  Emilia (Iago’s wife) finally realizes what Iago has done, and tells Othello the truth.  In anger of Emilia’s betrayal, Iago murders his wife.  In rage, Othello tried to kill Iago, but only wounds him before killing himself.

This play, like many others written by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy.  Othello is actually known today as one of the greatest tragedies ever written.  Othello meets the main characteristic of a tragedy as the hero having a fatal flaw.  The character of Othello actually has a couple of fatal flaws.  One fatal flaw of Othello was his naivety and the other was his jealousy.  Othello was naïve when he believed that Iago was a true friend.  Othello believed that what Iago was telling him about an affair was true, and did not consider that ulterior motive Iago may have.  Othello’s other fatal flaw, jealousy, caused him to be blinded from the truth.  The play of Othello is also considered a tragedy, because of the tragic ending.  The ending of Othello is tragic because he realized that he had killed his innocent wife, whom he loved.  He did this because he was the victim of a malicious scheme by someone he trusted.  Othello decides that because of his own flaws, naivety and jealousy, he now has nothing left to live for.

The plot is based on both the scheme of the antagonist, Iago, and the decisions made by the protagonist, Othello.  The rising action begins with Iago telling the audience of his scheme against Othello and Cassio.  The action continues to rise with a bit of foreshadowing.  The foreshadowing occurs during Othello’s and Desdemona’s speeches about their love, this foreshadows the tragedy and disaster than will ensue.  The play climaxes when Othello vows his revenge against his innocent wife Desdemona.  The resolution of the play is when the murders occur and Iago’s scheme is expressed to Othello.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William.  The Tragedy of Othello.  Thomas Walkley, 1622.

SparkNotes Editors, “SparkNotes on Othello.” SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web.

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The Indian Emperor

By Taylor Reddin

The Indian Emperor by John Dryden, was wrote during the baroque age. I found information about this play in our text book, The Western Humanities on page four hundred twenty nine, and on the internet on Wikipedia.  Drydens play was about the conflict of love and honor in a kingdom. The Indian Emperor  was first published by Henry Herringman in 1665.

The Indian Emperor is considered to be a heroic drama. The character, Montezuma, in this play refuse to save his kingdom for personal reasons. He then orders Cortez to turn his back on his lover because of his orders. Cortez does so, knowing the kings orders aren’t going to work.

This play takes place in Montezumas kingdom, and fighting with the Spainiards.  The Spainards torture Montezuma and later he commits suicide towards the end of the play. There was some foreshadowing when Cortez first got his orders from his king, and he thought that it wasn’t going to be worth leaving his lover, and he thought that the king’s ideas weren’t going to work.

Dryden brings in another main character Francisco Pizarro to be the villain, he also showed the Spaniards as being mean, cruel, and dangerous.  Dryden made Cortez to be the somewhat hero, he made him to be open-minded, and brilliant.

The Indiana Emperor was wrote as a follow up to Dryden’s, The Indian Queen. Sometimes The Indian Emperor is referred to as the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. On the days of the show Dryden would first introduce his audience members to what had happen in The Indian Queen, and gave them a little bit of insight as to what to expect with The Indian Emperor.

I personally like the idea of this play. In some ways I can see how it applies to stuff that happens in present day. Sometimes we have to sacrifice stuff to do things that we don’t always want to do, and sometimes we loose what’s important to us. And then other times we are the one in charge asking others to part with the people or things that they cherish or love the most, and we then realize we were wrong, but by then most of the time it’s too late.

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Romeo and Juliet

By Tabitha Rash

I chose the tragic play, Romeo and Juliet (1594) by William Shakespeare.  I accessed the play through the website, < http://shakespeare.mit.edu/romeo_juliet/full.html>, on April 16, 2011.  Shakespeare composed the play during mid-1850 in London about the forbidden love between two young people.

Although the play is considered by many to be a tragic drama, there are elements of comedy and romance, as well.  As the play begins, Romeo Monatague is pursuing Rosaline, who has no intention of ever marrying him.  Mercutio, a jokester of sorts, makes fun of Romeo due to this fact, which brings some comedy to the play. Exposition occurs when Romeo displays his lust for Rosaline instead of Juliet.  However, the plot soon reverses when Romeo and Juliet meet, unaware of each other’s last names.  This is important because their families have a long-lived feud between them and the love would be forbidden.  They soon discover who their families are and marry in hopes of ending the feud.  Death foreshadows their happiness, though and tragedy looms in the near future.  Mercutio is killed by Tybalt, who is then killed by Romeo to avenge the death of Mercutio.  Upon his return, the prince banishes Romeo from Verona, as a result of the murders.

The climax begins when a brawl breaks out between the servants of the feuding noble families of Romeo Monatague and Juliet Capulet at the Capulet feast in which Romeo crashes.

There are several thoughts of suicide by the young couple, especially after Romeo kills Tybalt.  They never go through with it, until this point in the play.  When Romeo thinks that Juliet is dead, he drinks the poison and dies.  Juliet, upon waking, finds Romeo dead and stabs herself with the dagger when the friar is not looking.  The feud is resolved when both families agree to end to prevent any further tragedies and so that their beloved children did not die in vain.

Shakespeare takes the time to build depth in the plot and in the characters, especially the active protagonists of the main characters, Romeo and Juliet.  He captures the essence of the passionate love shared between two young lovers through the poetic language used throughout the play.  Anyone who has experienced young love can relate, especially when the family gets involved and offers advice.  The author makes it easy to relate to his characters and apply it to their own lives.

The play is intense and draws the reader into their world, as if he were an innocent bystander in the backdrop of the play.  It is an emotional rollercoaster, with highs and lows, which keep you suspended until the deaths of the young lovers.  It is a very sad love story that has withstood the test of time to be included among the classics.

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Hamlet

By Rondell Lanier

William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet was thought to have been written between 1599 and 1561. Hamlet the main character is motivated to avenge his father’s death. He Finds himself struggling with two opposing forces: moral integrity and the need to avenge his father’s murder. Throughout the play Hamlet debates weather he should take revenge on his uncle for his alleged role in his father’s cold murder. His ambivalence about the authenticity of the apparition of his father delays his plan of action. However, Hamlet mostly delays his revenge because his moral and religious beliefs encumber his courage to take action.

The play is a tragedy with particular traits which are common to all the plays of the genre. The protagonist of the play, Hamlet, is a prince of noble blood. He is shown as a thoughtful and poetic scholar of a peaceful nature. To him no actions are without a shadow of doubt the right action. There is always an uncertainty that any action will produce only good results. This inability to trust his judgment leads finally to his downfall. Throughout the play Hamlet questions everything that has previously been taken for granted. He is readily horrified when the specter of his father rises to claim that his father was murdered by his own uncle. However he is plagued by the suspicion that this may be a false attempt to sabotage him.

Readers can find the language to be very complex compared to what you would read in modern Literature readings.  Written with a linguistic language Hamlet uses plenty of metaphors. There six main characters: Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Horatio, Ophelia and Polonius.  Like most, I found myself having no similar qualities with the main characters. Some of the characters in the play seem to be an antithesis of what’s  right in today society.

To me Hamlet is thoughtful and affected to the point of obsession, your sympathy Will remain with him throughout the play. He is the very last character to die, and with dying honorably, he lived his life. Every tragedy must have a hero, and he possess good traits as well as flaws, which inevitably caused his demise. I felt it was important for the protagonist retain the audience’s sympathy at the conclusion of the play, and Shakespeare has achieved this throughout the structure of the play, making it one of the most prized scripts written.

Works cited

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Stanley Appelbaum, New York: Dover, 1992

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The Miser (L’Avare)

By Mary Buckner

The Miser (L’Avare) is a play written by Jean Baptiste Poquelin, better known as Molière. I borrowed the play from a classmate named Sam Arnold who is a B.F.A. Theatre Major at Florida State University. I was fortunate enough to see this play live onstage a little less than two months ago when the FSU School of Theatre put on the production at the Conradi Studio Theatre located in Tallahassee, Florida. The Miser was written in 1668 and opened in Paris on September 9, 1668 at the Palais-Royale (Lewis 124). The play takes place in a beautiful house in Paris and tells the story of a greedy, elderly man named Harpagon and the challenge his two children, Cléante and Élise, face when they quickly learn that their father is not going to permit their marriage requests to their beloveds. Harpagon being the selfish Miser he is, only wants companions for his children that will benefit him financially and forbids them marriage with their true loves. The two couples’ (Cléante and Marianne and Élise and Valère) strong passions for each other and determination to get what they desire create an exciting, sneaky, suspenseful, and very interesting plot.

The Miser is a five-act satirical farce that is identified as a comedy. However, many interpretations and presentations of this play have often not been a comedy at all, due to the darkness of the play and its themes of cruelty and loss (Lewis 122).  Moliere did indeed include of mixture of emotions in his plays, as he intelligently “analyzed the foibles of French life in twelve penetrating satirical comedies that had the lasting impact of tragedy” (Matthews and Platt 431).  In The Miser, Moliere highlighted the comedy of dark situations by using all the trappings of farce such as sight gags, slapstick, pratfalls, puns, and mistaken identities.

Moliere often used the period’s social types to create the characters in his plays, “exposing the follies of the entire society” (Matthews and Platt 431). His work The Miser is one of the best examples of this, seeing as the protagonist of the show, as well as the play’s title, is in itself a social type-a miser. “As his own son’s rival in love, Harpagon is the archetypal archetype, the ultimate “blocking” character and violator of the order of “nature.” (www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides2/Miser.html) Although labeled as the “blocking” character, Harpagon is certainly an active protagonist, as his decisions and choices are what the rest of the characters actions are based off of. I personally identified with Harpagon’s daughter Élise. I didn’t identify with her for the reasons for that we have gone through the same experiences; but as an actress myself, when I was reading the script I kept finding myself wanting to be cast as her. I love her aura and language, as well as the devoted passion she has for her lover, Valère.

One of the play’s biggest themes is that of greed. Harpagon’s greed for gold and money prohibit him from really ever receiving anything back in life. Through out the play’s entirety, Harpagon just constantly wants more and more money, never being satisfied. And although he is very financially wealthy, “All that glisters is not gold”, as quoted in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (2.7.67). More valuable by far are love, friendship, family harmony, and common decency. In all of these things, Harpagon is poverty-stricken. (www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides2/Miser.html). Other themes in the play are the power of true love, loss, and cruelty.

Moliere’s The Miser is a play filled with high, witty, and creative language. The characters speak in a much more sophisticated fashion than I feel most of us in the USA do today. Their jokes and ridicules were even so intelligently written that they come across as proper. However, a lot of the basis for the style of dialogue is due to the time period the play. I didn’t think the language hindered my reading. I think because the language is as heightened as it is, it actually helped bring out certain emotions in me that contemporary way of speech would not have. I will admit sometimes I would have to re-read a couple sentences or two to fully understand what was being said, but it was never anything that caused me great confusion or lack of understanding.

Overall, Molière’s The Miser was one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is so brilliantly written because one moment within the play could have a certain person laughing, while another could be feeling much sympathy or despite. An example of this would be the very end of the play when Harpagon is alone with his casket of money-one person could find this slightly funny and another could be disgusted that he gave up everything else in his life without thought so he could just have his wealth returned. The Miser not only brings out different emotions in different people, but also brings out various emotions in one person within a very short period of time. I applaud Molière for being creative and intelligent enough to accomplish this. I loved reading the script and I am so fortunate that I got to see this text live on a stage and I highly recommend to any one who can to see Molière’s entertaining play.

Works Cited

Matthews, Roy T., F. Dewitt Platt, and Thomas F.X. Noble. The Western Humanities. abcdef7th Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2011. Print

“The Miser: a Study Guide for the Molière Play.” Free Study Guides for Shakespeare abcdefand Other Authors. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. abcdefhttp://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides2/Miser.html

Molière, and David Chambers. The Miser. New York, NY: Dramatists Play Service, abcdef1993.

Lewis, D. B. Wyndham. Molière: The Comic Mask. New York: Coward-McCann, 1959.

Shakespeare, William, Burton Raffel, and Harold Bloom. The Merchant of Venice. abcdefNew Haven: Yale UP, 2006

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